By Dr. Mercola
Hispanics in the U.S., live on average over two years longer than whites, and over seven years longer than blacks.
A recent government report contains the strongest evidence yet of what some call the "Hispanic paradox" -- remarkable longevity in a population with many poor and undereducated members. One theory holds that Hispanics who immigrate to the U.S. tend to be among the healthiest from their countries.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
"A Hispanic born in 2006 could expect to live about 80 years and seven months, the government estimates. Life expectancy for a white is about 78, and for a black, just shy of 73 years."
According to a released life expectancy report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 there are significant disparities between ethnic groups in America.
Hispanics living in the US outlive Caucasians by more than two years. African Americans lag even further behind. Their life expectancy is more than seven years shorter than Hispanics, at just under 73 years, compared to Hispanics' life expectancy of nearly 81 years.
But the so-called "Hispanic paradox" that the Chicago Tribune mentions may not be such a mystery after all, if you look at what drives longevity in the first place.
Can Money Buy You Health and Longevity?
Conventional wisdom tells us that populations with more money and higher educational status live longer. And there's plenty of evidence to support this.
The "Hispanic paradox" refers to the curious fact that despite having such a large portion of poor and undereducated members (three times as many Hispanics live below the poverty level compared with Caucasians), the Hispanic community still outlives the wealthier and more educated Caucasian population.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
"A leading theory is that Hispanics who manage to immigrate to the U.S. are among the healthiest from their countries.
…An estimated 40 percent of them are immigrants, who in some cases arrived after arduous journeys to do taxing manual labor.
…However, experts say that immigrant hardiness diminishes within a couple of generations of living here. Many believe it's because the children of immigrants take up smoking, fast-food diets and other habits blamed for wrecking the health of other ethnic populations."
I'd say they more or less hit the nail on the head with that last statement.
First generation American Hispanics live longer because they're eating a FAR more natural diet, and they're typically far more physically active than Americans in general.
But it only takes a generation or two to lose many of the healthful customs that are the cornerstones of good health.
These statistics really speak to the power of an unprocessed diet and an active lifestyle. What good does money do if you spend a majority of it on denatured, chemical-laden, processed foods?
It's quite clear that eating a diet consisting of high amounts of processed foods will shorten your life, yet 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed food, and the number one source of calories in the US comes from high fructose corn syrup – a staple ingredient in nearly all processed foods, from frozen dinners, to condiments, snacks, and soda.
Hispanics, in general, tend to have strong culinary customs, where food is cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients, and I strongly believe this is a major part of the equation. I have advocated a return to home cooking for years now, because I believe it's one of the most effective ways to improve your health and extend your life.
Want to Live Longer? Eat Natural Foods!
The concept of "native diets" being superior to the processed diets of the modern, Western world goes back nearly 100 years.
Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist and dental researcher who, in the early 1930s, went on an investigation that spanned the globe to determine why native populations, who ate traditional foods, exhibited perfect physical health well into old age.
What he discovered, and wrote about in depth in his classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration,2 was that as populations adopted industrially processed foods, veering away from natural fare, their health started to decline.
Modern food processing actually began in the early part of 1800, when vacuum bottling was invented, followed by tinning and canning technology in 1810. Back then, lead-containing cans wrought health problems on those who consumed it.
In 1862, pasteurization was discovered, and with it came the destruction of one of Earth's most nutritious food groups – raw dairy. The major shift toward a diet consisting of more processed food occurred in the 1920s,3 right around the time Dr. Price published his book.
Price's research took him to remote tribal communities -- Swiss, Eskimos, Polynesians, Africans, New Zealanders, and more -- and what he discovered made him one of the foremost authorities on the role of foods in their natural form, and the development of degenerative illnesses as a result of processed foods. (For more information, please see this article on Dr. Weston Price’s research.
Clearly, the Western diet has deteriorated significantly since then. More denaturing and harmful food processing methods have followed, and we're seeing the ramifications of this unnatural food culture in our skyrocketing disease statistics.
How We're Breeding a Diseased Future Generation
It's easy to understand how the younger generations get lured into thinking that processed food is "regular food." After all, that's what most kids are surrounded by and grow up with.
But processed, pre-packaged foods and fast food restaurants of today are actually radically different from real food.
Unless this misconception is corrected, and soon, the disease trends we're now seeing are only going to get worse as much of the processed foods consumed today are not even food-based! That's right, some processed foods and snacks are little more than a mish-mash of chemicals created in a lab, with no perceivable expiration date.
This is a serious problem, not only short term for the person who consumes these foods, but for the generations to come.
Researchers have discovered that genetic mutations and malfunctions that cause disease are created in future generations when consuming highly processed and artificial foods.
Poor Diet and Disease Cannot Be Un-Linked
There aren't many mysteries when it comes to health and disease, and once you start seeing how everything is interconnected, you'll also see that nearly every disease can be traced back to the foods you've chosen to eat.
For example, many people do not realize the connections between diet, obesity, and other diseases such as heart disease or cancer.
Taking cancer as an example, obese women are up to 60 percent more likely to develop some form of cancer than normal-weight women, and obese women are also far more likely to have babies with genetic defects.4
One of the links between obesity and certain forms of cancer is estrogen.
Breast cancer, for example, is typically fueled by estrogen, and this hormone is produced in your fat tissue. Hence, the more body fat you have, the more estrogen you're likely to produce, which could contribute to the formation of breast cancer.
Tracing this issue back to its roots: obesity is directly attributable to your diet, and fast food, high in trans fats and sugar, is a major contributor to obesity…
Yet how often do you hear health officials talk about the need for a raw, whole, organic diet when addressing rising cancer rates?
If you want to do something about your state of health, you simply MUST become conscious about your food selections.
- Are you eating real, unadulterated foods, or are you eating chemical concoctions, pressed and mashed and artificially flavored to give the appearance of being food?
- Are you eating foods that are loaded with antibiotics and hormones?
- Are you eating foods that contain ingredients that are genetically modified to pull double-duty as pesticides?
These are important questions that will only become more important as time goes on and public health continues to decline.
The Healthy Ingredients of Native Diets
What makes Dr. Price's work so incredible is that even though it was published in 1939, it is still equally valid today. That is one of the signs of a health truth: it lasts for many years. If it was true in 1939, it should still hold true when 2019 rolls around.
Dr. Price noticed some similarities between the native diets that allowed the people to thrive.
- The foods were natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contained no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup).
- The people ate foods that grew in their native environment. In other words, they ate locally grown, seasonal foods.
- Many of the cultures ate unpasteurized dairy products, and all of them ate fermented foods.
- The people ate a significant portion of their food raw.
- All of the cultures ate animal products, including animal fat and, often, full-fat butter and organ meats.
When he analyzed his findings, he found that the native diets contained ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins, and at least four times the amount of calcium, other minerals, and water-soluble vitamins as that of Western diets at that time.
Their diets were also rich in enzymes because they ate fermented and raw foods (enzymes help you to digest cooked foods), and their intake of omega-3 fats was at least ten times higher than in today's diet.
How to Survive in a Diseased Health Paradigm
Even though we live lives that are far different from those of our ancestors, you can still benefit from their traditional diets by using them as dependable roadmaps to good health.
By implementing the native dietary patterns listed above, you too can improve or maintain optimal health. However, modern life has also removed us from many other natural, health-promoting lifestyle patterns that need to be addressed.
Here is a summary of the most important and most effective dietary and lifestyle measures I know of:
- Determine your nutritional type, and eat accordingly. This will tell you which foods are ideal for your unique biochemistry. This will also help you optimize your insulin and leptin levels, which are paramount for good health. Additionally, eating the right foods for your chemical makeup will help you maintain a healthy weight
- Eat at least one-third of your food raw
- Avoid processed foods and all artificial flavorings, colorings, and artificial sweeteners. Instead, seek out locally grown foods that are in season
- Enjoy fermented foods like kefir and cultured veggies
- Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils
- Drink plenty of pure, clean water
- Manage your stress levels
- Exercise regularly. For optimal health benefits and longevity, make sure you incorporate high-intensity, sprint-type exercises, such as Peak Fitness
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through appropriate exposure to sunshine. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a vast array of diseases, and has been shown to increase your risk of death from any cause by 150 percent!
- Limit your exposure to toxins
- Get plenty of good sleep
Following these guidelines is a powerful way to avoid premature aging and disease of all kinds, so that you can far exceed the U.S. national average life expectancy, regardless of your financial- and educational status, or your racial heritage.